The US has sanctioned 17 Saudi citizens in connection with the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Among them are the Saudi consul general in Istanbul, Mohammed al-Otaibi, and the members of a team blamed for killing Khashoggi’s diplomatic mission, the US Treasury said. All 17 are involved in the „abominable murder“. „These people, who attack and brutally kill a journalist who lived and worked in the United States, must bear the consequences for their actions,“ said Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.
Khashoggi had disappeared under mysterious circumstances during a visit to the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul on 2 October. Only after much hesitation did Saudi Arabia acknowledge that the journalist had been killed and started an investigation. His body, however, disappeared.
The most prominent victim of the sanctions is Saud bin Abdullah al-Kahtani. He was responsible for media affairs at the royal court and was released the night that Khashoggi’s death was granted. Al-Kahtani is considered a close confidant of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. The Ministry of Finance said the Khashoggi killing operation was coordinated and executed by Al-Kahtani’s subordinate Maher Mutreb. Also involved was a team of 14 other Saudis.
The ownership of those affected in the US is now frozen. US citizens are no longer allowed to do business with them. Mnuchin called on the Saudi government „to take adequate steps to stop attacks on political dissidents or journalists.“ More pressure had been put on US President Donald Trump to impose sanctions on Khashoggi.
The prosecution in Saudi Arabia had previously presented its version of Khashoggi’s circumstances of death and called for the death penalty for five suspects. A spokesman for the Riyadh public prosecutor’s office said that the deputy intelligence chief General Ahmed al-Assiri, who has since been dismissed, ordered the operation to forcefully bring Khashoggi to Saudi Arabia if necessary. Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, however, had no knowledge of it. Turkey expressed doubts about the version.